Emmylou Harris, Frank Ocean and Muse on My Morning Drive

Driving the kids to school this morning I was treated to a wide range of music on the satellite. Music today is more segmented than ever before, much like our society in general, if one does not desire to step outside their comfort zone they have no need to. We are told stories of the dawn of FM radio, how the stations played a wide range of music and everybody’s musical tastes grew. Those days are long gone.

As my children were growing up they heard the music that was played around the house. Even today they can sing along with Springsteen, Petty, and The Beatles. My son at age six shocked his Mother one day by singing her the entire first verse ( God said kill me a son) of Dylan’s Highway 61.

Still, even though they can sing that music they rarely do. My daughter puts the radio on the Hits Channel the second she is in the car subjecting us to Bieber, the Disney girls of the moment, Taylor Swift, and whatever rap song is currently being bleeped out so much it is hard to understand. My middle son is a full on rap devotee having no appreciation for other music while my oldest son does appreciate Classic Rock but still will sheepishly crank up the rap of the day. Recently that has been someone called A$AP Rocky.

What do I think of rap music? Not much. I do listen to it however, especially anything that is considered the sound of the moment. It was I who read a review about this A$AP fellow and, after listening to the album on Spotify,  asked my son if he had heard of him. My punishment for being so open, having an A$AP concert upstairs for most of the waking hours of the day my son is home and awake.

I do not regret it though, music is an important part of my life.The music service Spotify has changed the way I listen to music. Any who say that people using Spotify still buy as much music as before have not reviewed my listening and purchasing habits. Frankly I have not purchased music in well over a year.

So where do Emmylou, Mr. Ocean, and Muse come in? I heard them all this morning on my drive. Emmylou Harris has recently released an album of duets with Rodney Crowell and the title cut Old Yellow Moon displays her incredible voice well. Frank Ocean’s song Thnkin’ About You on XM’s 20 on 20 Channel was well worth the listen and the band Muse performing their U2 flecked song Madness on the Alt Rock channel was the best song of the trip. You see while no station plays all of these performers you can create your own varied song-list with good presets on your radio dial and a quick trigger finger for switching channels.

My wife says I am eclectic. I guess that might be true but I would define it more as open. Of all the stations on the satellite I listen to Outlaw Country most of all. With a playlist that is wide, ranging from Waylon and Willie to Bright Eyes and Chris Knight it is a constant favorite. The Alt Rock channel has recently turned me onto a band called Imagine Dragons while the New Wave channel reminds me daily of how good bands from Gene Loves Jezebel and the Smiths were back in the day. And, on those special moments, nothing beats the Frank Sinatra channel. Has there ever been a better album thematically that In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning?

We can dislike the music our kids listen to and I often do. The best way, however, to counter that is to be open ourselves. Try to find some way to appreciate something in what they listen to. For example Eminem is clearly a genius at turning a phrase, you do not have to like what he says to recognize that. When you do this ask them to listen to some music you like. Much of the time you will be ignored but, occasionally, something neat will happen such as the night my son texted me and told me to listen to a song by a band called M83. Or as you play a few Tom Petty songs one afternoon you notice your daughter singing along quietly. When you ask her about it she says ” Of course I know the words I was raised on Tom Petty.” That is what you call a very good day.

The days of one channel playing many different types of music are gone. To be diverse, to be open, you have to work harder. The benefits however are great and you set a great example for our children who have no memories of a less fragmented world.

This spring will bring many new albums, many that I look forward to and plan to listen to and review. These include the aforementioned Emmylou Harrris album, releases by Bon Jovi, Eric Clapton, and John Fogerty. I also will look at the latest from Kris Kristofferson, and three of the big guns of country music Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley and Blake Shelton. Others with releases this spring include Justin Timberlake, Dawes, the long silent David Bowie, The Strokes and Vampire Weekend among others. I hope to review all of these and more. If readers have any specific suggestions about what releases should be reviewed I welcome their suggestions.